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Arroyo: ‘We will not negotiate with a gun aimed at our head’

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 17:30:00 09/09/2008

MANILA, Philippines—The government will “not negotiate” with rebel groups “with a gun pointed at our head,” President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said as she reiterated her new peace policy to top government officials.

“We will not negotiate with a gun pointed at our head. Innocent civilians should not be terrorized for crass political gain,” Arroyo said in a “very urgent” memorandum.

“We can restart the dialogue when the area is secure and our people are safe, and responsible elements in the MILF [Moro Islamic Liberation Front] regain control,” she said.

In the wake of MILF attacks on civilian communities in Central Mindanao last month, the President said the government would talk directly to communities and negotiations with rebel groups should be done within the framework of disarmament.

“The violence must stop. Order must be restored. Peace must be our goal. There is no room for wanton violence against innocent civilians,” Arroyo said.

Arroyo convened the National Security Council cluster of her Cabinet in Malacañang Tuesday, after meeting the National Economic Development Authority group.

The memorandum, coursed through Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, was addressed to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr., Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, Presidential Peace Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., and Press Secretary Jesus Dureza.

Military offensives have targeted the groups of MILF commanders Ameril Umbra Kato and Abdurahman Macapaar alias Bravo, who have been charged over the attacks in the provinces of North Cotabato and Lanao del Norte, respectively.

The President said she issued the message to her top officials in keeping with National Peace Consciousness Month being observed since the government struck a peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front in September 1996.

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2008-09-09T11:45:52+00:00UTC09bUTCTue, 09 Sep 2008 11:45:52 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am09

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